Each episode is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. As the world emerges from pandemic paralysis, are our Class of 2021 feeling inspired or inhibited, glad or gloomy, chaotic or calm? In this episode we meet Sarah who has just completed her MSc in Carbon Management.
Welcome to Season 2, a little bit of the same but quite a lot different. Each month we meet five more graduates from the Class of 2021. Subscribe now and find out what everyone is up to and how they feel about life, the last 12 months and future plans.
All opinions expressed are those of the individual and do not necessarily reflect those of the University of Edinburgh.
Multi Story Edinburgh has been created and produced by the Alumni Relations team at the University of Edinburgh. If you are interested in telling your story, please get in touch and let's talk.
Music: Since When by Mise Darling from freemusicarchive.org
Artwork: Vector created by redgreystock from www.freepik.com
Sonia 0:09 This is a snapshot, a moment, a sneak inside the minds of our graduates. This is season two, Class of 2021. A little bit of the same, but quite a lot different.
Sarah 0:23 Hi, I'm Sarah and I'm about to graduate from the Carbon Management online MSc at the University of Edinburgh. I'm currently based in North Yorkshire in a town called Harrogate, remotely working, having previously studied at the University of Edinburgh on campus a number of years ago. So I started looking at the MSC after having children and I guess it was recapturing some of my youth as an undergraduate, it was quite a different experience. I think, as an undergraduate, I felt it was definitely a life experience and I wanted to go back to the University, I think, with a more serious mindset and actually look at the formal study. And I feel as though I'd learnt quite a lot about myself as a person and what my interests were compared to when I was 18. And just probably admittedly did a degree because it was just a topic which interested me at high school. So after having children, I think that I had much more of an appreciation of the environmental sector. I feel as though it's been a really tangible link to like the future generation and I really grew a passion as a result of that. It was something that interested me previously, but just having children really cemented that. Also having less time, I think, also maybe prioritised what I actually want to do here with the rest of my life ahead of me. And so something that made an impact in the way that an MSc in Carbon Management does really, really appealed to me and I was set on finishing this MSc.
Just to give a bit of background, I actually did a law [?] just before this when I was giving birth to my second child, and it-- just with some extenuating circumstances, it just became too hard to manage. And in hindsight, it probably wasn't even as tough as the pandemic but it wasn't, you know, my true passion. And this MSc, I think just really has been just knowing that you're going to have that impact just for me personally has been such a driver. And yeah, it was really tough at times, especially given how unprecedented the pandemic was, and then having to home-school and have a very small two year old at the time, around my legs while trying to do some serious work with my-- my four year old was-- was challenging. And yeah, it was a lot of late nights and having to persevere, but that feeling of knowing that it will all be worth it, hopefully, there'll be some contribution at the end of this and hopefully it will benefit my children as well. I know they've had to make sacrifices having their mummy distracted by this-- by this qualification, but I'm hoping that we all benefit from it in the long run.
Studying online definitely had its advantages. It was-- it was a much smoother transition than I would assume for those who were on campus. I mean, I think a lot of it was like a psychological kind of barrier in a way because it was so unprecedented and everything just suddenly seemed to hit quite dramatically as we're all going into lockdowns worldwide. And yeah, so that was still challenging, but it certainly wasn't-- we were online already and you know, all the processes were in place, there was no transition in that respect. So we probably didn't have as hard a time. But saying that, there are a lot of us that do the MSc part-time and we have other-- other commitments. And so there were, you know, parents who were having to struggle for child care, and people in jobs that were suddenly had much more work on their plates. And you know, there was-- there was a different set of challenges for us, I think. And the staff as well, I mean, they teach online and also on campus, so I think they had a lot to get their heads around as well. And I think everybody just needs to be more patient with each other. It may sound cheesy to say that yeah, we are-- there's some camaraderie there and we are probably a more cemented community. I feel as though I have made friends that I will, you know, go to hopefully for the rest of my career and life. We've really helped each other through I think, there's been a WhatsApp group where everybody has been chatting to each other. And you know, if there has been any challenges on the programme, we all come and have a discussion about it and help each other. I mean, I've had issues over my time in the course personally and you know, just being able to share those and know that you're not alone, it's just been incredibly helpful. It's something that I would never previously or before the pandemic have ever really been as vocal with any issues that I was facing and I feel as though it really has been a time where we have been maybe a bit more open with each other and share challenges. There's a more of an acceptance that you know, you can actually like, share-- used to just kind of bury it all below-- beneath the surface and just try and crack on. But I think that the pandemic really has been quite an eye opener and you just-- there's just been too much sometimes to take on yourself. Thinking back to my time at Edinburgh University previously, like it's over a decade ago, and there just wasn't that same level of openness around mental health or any-- any form of issue sharing really at all, and it probably wasn't beneficial. I've noticed how much of an impact sharing information has had on my own life. And yeah, I really hope that we all continue to do that going forward, because there are so many benefits for it.
I think when I initially set off on this journey, I was wanting to do some form of consulting with businesses. But having done the programme, I think I've changed my mind and I actually want to get involved in the policy side of things. I'm currently exploring options, I'm having conversations with people. I think when I initially started, I thought I'd just apply for a job and that would be it, but I have actually realised there is a huge benefit to networking as well, having conversations and actually finding the right job rather than just applying for anything out there. And I think that's one of the benefits of this MSc topic areas are like COP26 is coming up and there are a lot of roles relating to, you know, carbon management, environmental issues. It's quite a luxury in a way because having been through the 2008 financial crisis and having like very few graduate jobs out there. It's yeah, it really does feel like something of a luxury to have choice. And I think being a parent as well, I am more picky about the role that I will be going for, hopefully with flexible working hours but still be able to do the pickup at school. Seems as though those options are available now, particularly with acceleration towards home working. I could apply for positions in London or Edinburgh even though I'm based in North Yorkshire, it's-- it's nice. I think the MSc has been good at actually forcing me to build relationships online as opposed to in person. I think that I would look back now and say, I'm so happy I got through it. And yeah, I think maybe the years go on, I'll become prouder still, I'm still in this mindset of like, I don't know, slightly traumatised [laughs]. But-- but um, yeah, it's definitely going to be worth it and being a lot slower with the whole employment process as well. Like I'm just giving myself time to breathe. I was always very wrapped up with wanting a career and having to have it now and if there was a gap on my CV, it was like this awful, awful thing. Now I'm just like, you know what, it's been traumatic, I feel as though I just need a bit of time to kind of self reflect, know exactly what I want. And I'm doing some volunteering, I'm not getting paid for it, but it's just been a brilliant experience in terms of learning exactly where I want to go in the field. Definitely, that acceptance now that this is a journey, don't need to get to the destination straightaway. And yeah, I'm enjoying it and it's been a process of self discovery as cheesy as that sounds [laughs].
Sonia 8:21 We also ask our graduates to share a place, somewhere special, somewhere we can get together when all this is finished.
Sarah 8:31 The place I have chosen for us all to convene, is a place just down the road for me in fact, just trundle along there, it's called Birk Crag. It's a crag [laughs] with a river flowing through it. And there's rocks to climb and these gorgeous panoramic views over the area. And it's just somewhere I escaped to over the second lockdown here in the UK, with my daughter who I was home-schooling at the time. And it was just about being around nature and having that appreciation for it. There's so many aspects of it that were beneficial to me at that time, just like an area to de stress and, you know, reconnect with the natural environment when it has been such an overwhelming time for so many of us. And just to switch off from the human centric world, I think when you've been on a laptop or your phone connecting with people for so long. And yeah, it was nice to just wander and switch off. Or you can also tune in to the different elements around you. You know, does the sight, smell, touch of nature, there's the myriad of colours and the trees and the flowers, listening to the birds. It's just like every single element of the ecosystem. I think as well like you feel-- you know, you're aware of your place within that like, this-- these ecosystems are so fragile and humans can have such a large impact. And I think that's really helped pushing me forward in my degree area. We all have such a huge impact, but then as individuals, we can actually take action. And I think together as a community, we have even more power to basically make these small changes which do actually protect the world around us in the long term. So yeah, it's about I think, all reconnecting and hopefully, making small steps together, which will have a large impact.
Sonia 10:31 Thank you for listening. Join us next time for another graduate and another story.
Kirsten Roche 10:42 Feeling inspired by what you've just heard? Take the first step to getting the career you want by contacting the Careers Service. As a recent graduate, you can continue to access all of our services, including access to vacancies on mycareerhub, practice interviews, our full calendar of online employer events, and online appointments with one of our careers consultants. Find out more at ed.ac.uk/careers.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai